The New England Patriots have experienced nothing but success in the past two decades with Tom Brady at quarterback. However, with Brady taking his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Patriots are facing an unprecedented challenge in 2020.
With Brady no longer on the roster, all eyes will be on Bill Belichick and how New England fares without the Hall of Fame quarterback. Besides Brady, the Patriots also lost a slew of key contributors on defense in free agency.
Similar to most seasons, New England is going to take a ‘next man up’ approach this offseason, in response to the changes to the roster. Taking all of that into consideration, here are the three biggest questions for the Patriots in the 2020 NFL season.
3. Who is going to step up and be the No. 2 wide receiver alongside Julian Edelman?
Over the course of the 2019 NFL season, it was apparent that New England lacked firepower on offense. Outside of Julian Edelman and James White, there wasn’t much consistency in the Patriots’ aerial attack.
While Edelman did his part, veteran Mohamed Sanu was a bit disappointing after being traded to New England during last season. On the other hand, a mix of injuries and usage led to N’Keal Harry having a dismal rookie campaign in 2019.
Nevertheless, both of them will get an opportunity to earn the No. 2 spot on New England’s depth chart. For the Patriots to move forward offensively, they are going to need more consistent production from their receivers not named Edelman.
2. Will the defense be able to repeat what they did a season ago?
While the Patriots’ offense sputtered in 2019, the defense put together a truly historic season. New England concluded this past season with the No. 1 defense in terms of yards (275.9) and points (14.1) allowed.
In addition, the Patriots also forced a whopping 36 takeaways (second-most in the NFL). With that being said, New England lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, and Elandon Roberts from last year’s defensive unit.
Despite the talent they still have, it will be tough for the Patriots to replicate what they did a season ago. Still, if the defense can repeat their success from 2019, they could find a way to sneak into the postseason in 2020.
1. Can the Patriots succeed without Tom Brady under center?
Over the past 19 seasons, the Patriots have been able to ignore the quarterback position with Brady manning the position. However, again, with his departure in free agency, New England is entering unchartered waters in 2020.
Without Brady, the Patriots are left with Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer at quarterback. While Brady was in Foxborough, he contributed six Super Bowls to New England’s organization. Also, during his tenure, fans of the Patriots rarely saw failure.
In all likeliness, Stidham is going to get the first shot at replacing Brady next season. There has been an ongoing argument about whether Brady or Belichick was more conducive to winning.
You can bet if the Patriots falter in 2020, media pundits are going to question the legitimacy of Belichick’s reign. For the first time since 2000, we’ll see how Belichick’s squad performs without No. 12 under center.